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Portrait of a lady at a casement

Portrait of a lady at a casement
signed and dated 'F Bol 1652.' (upper right)
oil on canvas
43 1/8 x 35 in. (109.6 x 88.9 cm.)
Corneille-Louis Reynders, Brussels (d. 1821); his sale (†), Nieuwenhuys, Brussels, 6 August 1821, lot 14 (250 florins to the following),
with Guillaume Verbelen, Brussels.
Sir Charles Bagot (1781-1843); Christie's, London, 18 June 1836, lot 10 (47 gns. to the following),
James Ewing (1775–1853), Strathleven House, Dunbartonshire, and by descent until 1924, when it entered the collection of Lowood House, Melrose, Roxburghshire, Scotland, and by inheritance to the present owner.
R.N. James, Painters and their works: A dictionary of great artists who are not now alive, London, 1896, I, p. 100.
H. Gerson, Meisterwerke der holländischen Historienmalerei des 17. Jahrhunderts, Essen, 1969, p. 70.
A. Blankert, Ferdinand Bol: 1616-1680. Een leerling van Rembrandt, PhD dissertation, Utrecht, 1976, p. 256, no. A 149, as 'Attributed to Nicolaes Maes'.
A. Blankert, Ferdinand Bol, Rembrandt's Pupil, Doornspijk, 1982, pp. 64, 66, 146 and 159-160, no. 150, pl. 161.
W. Sumowski, Gemälde Der Rembrandt-Schüler, Landau, 1983, I, pp. 312 and 409, no. 170.
R. Ekkart, 'Govert Flinck and Ferdiand Bol: The Portraits', Ferdinand Bol and Govert Flinck: Rembrandt's Master Pupils, exhibition catalogue, Amsterdam, Rembrandt House Museum, 2017, pp. 154 and 251.
London, British Institution, The Works of Ancient Masters: The Property of His Most Gracious Majesty William The Fourth, The Most Noble the Marquess of Westminster, and the Right Honourable Sir Charles Bagot, G.C.B., 1834, as 'F. Bol, Portrait of a Dutch lady'.

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Clementine Sinclair
Clementine Sinclair Director, Head of Department

Lot Essay

Renowned as one of Rembrandt’s most talented protégés, Ferdinand Bol transformed the landscape of portrait painting in Amsterdam in the mid-seventeenth century, emerging as one of the leading portraitists of the Dutch Golden Age.
By the date of this picture in 1652, Bol was at his peak and in great demand with Amsterdam’s wealthy clientele. Portraits of figures behind trompe l’oeil windowsills became one of his specialities, defying the obsequiousness demanded of traditional portraiture to represent his patrons with greater artistic freedom. He developed a style that was both meticulous and at ease, breaking away from the Rembrandtesque manner that dominated his early work.
Bol left Rembrandt’s studio in around 1640 to begin his independent career in Amsterdam, but not before sharing in his master’s newly found fascination with trompe l’oeil devices. Rembrandt’s early trompe l’oeils clearly had a long-lasting impact on Bol, such as his Portraits of Agatha Bas and Nicolaes van Bambeeck of 1641 (London, Royal Collection; and Brussels, Koninklijk Musea voor Schone Künsten, respectively), and Girl in a Picture Frame of the same year (fig. 1; Warsaw, Royal Castle).
Painted over a decade later, the present painting still shows echoes of their influence in the illusory wooden frame over which the windowsill and pillow extend; in the gesture of the sitter’s fan as it projects beyond the pictorial plane; and in her direct gaze as she looks out towards an implied beholder. Each element is illuminated with a radiant light from the upper left, casting shadows to suggest the behaviour of light. The large stone niche in which the sitter is staged both extends and recedes outside of the picture plane, crossing the boundary between representation and reality to create a glimpse of the original setting in which the picture may have once hung.
Painted as a marriage portrait, this picture became separated from its pendant, now the Museum of Fine Arts in Leipzig (fig. 2), before 1836, at which time their relationship fell into obscurity, only to be re-established by Albert Blankert in his 1982 catalogue raisonné on the artist’s works (op. cit.). While the identities of the sitters are not known, their lavish attire and marked self-assurance suggest that they were of high social standing, whose manners evidently veered towards the unconventional. With a frontal pose, this sitter does not dutifully turn towards the pendant of her husband, as one would expect from marital portraits of the period. Yet through their complementing projections beyond the illusionary frames that surround them, husband and wife are connected in a dialogue, evoking the domestic setting that they would have once shared.
Further contents from Lowood House will be offered by Lyon & Turnbull. https://www.lyonandturnbull.com/lowood-house/

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